Standard Schnauzer with pepper-and-salt coat, natural ears and tail
Wirehair Pinscher (obsolete)
|Country of origin||Germany|
The Standard Schnauzer is the original breed of the three breeds of Schnauzer, and despite its wiry coat and general appearance, is not related to the British terriers. Rather, its origins are in old herding and guard breeds of Europe. Generally classified as a working or utility dog, this versatile breed is a robust, squarely built, medium-sized dog with aristocratic bearing. It was a popular subject of painters Sir Joshua Reynolds, Albrecht Dürer and Rembrandt.
Standard Schnauzers are either pepper-and-salt or black in color, and are known for exhibiting many of the "ideal" traits of any breed. These include high intelligence, agility, alertness, reliability, strength, endurance, and affection. Standard Schnauzers are one of the oldest breeds with over 500 years of history. This breed of dog has been very popular in Europe, specifically Germany where it originated. The breed was first exhibited at a show in Hanover in 1879. They are majestic and regal in the show ring, and have taken top honors in many shows including the prestigious "Best in Show at Westminster Kennel Club" in 1997.
Schnauzers are originally a German breed, descended during the Middle Ages from herding, ratting and guardian breeds. They may be most closely related to German Pinschers, and the spitz-type breeds. Dogs very similar to today's schnauzers existed in the Middle Ages. They were portrayed in paintings, statues and tapestries, including by artists Rembrandt, Dürer and Reynolds. Initially a dog of the peasant farmer, in the 19th century this breed captured the interest of the German dog fancier and they began to be bred to a standard.
The Schnauzer breed takes its name from one of its kind, a show dog winner by that name, "Schnauzer", at the 1879 Hanover Show in Germany. The word Schnauzer (from the German word for 'snout') appeared for the first time in 1842 when used as a synonym for the Wire-haired Pinscher (the name under which the breed first competed at dog shows). The Standard Schnauzer is the original Schnauzer from which the Miniature and Giant breeds were developed in the late 19th century. They have been shown from the 1870s onwards and first appeared in the United States about 1900.
The Standard Schnauzer has been used throughout modern history in various roles. The Red Cross used the dogs for guard duty during World War I. Both German and American police departments put the dogs to work as well. Several Standards have been used in the USA for drug and bomb detection, and also as search-and-rescue dogs.
The modern Standard Schnauzer excels at obedience, agility, tracking, herding, therapy work and, in Germany, schutzhund. Despite being a very popular pet in Europe, the Standard Schnauzer has never gained wide popularity in North America. For the past 20 years, the AKC has registered only ~540 Standard Schnauzer puppies a year. Compare that to the Labrador retriever at nearly ~100,000 puppies a year and it is clear the Standard Schnauzer has a very small - but loyal - fan club.
Standard Schnauzers are always pepper and salt or less commonly black in color, with a stiff and wiry fur coat on the body similar to that of other wirehaired breeds such as many breeds of terrier. Their hair will perpetually grow in length without properly shedding. Twice a year, when most other breeds of dog are shedding their coat, a Schnauzer’s coat will become dull and relatively easy to pull out and is said to have ‘blown’. At this point the coat can be stripped or pulled out by hand and a new wire coat will re-grow in its place. Stripping is not painful for the dog and can be performed at any stage of hair growth although it is easier to do when the coat is ‘blown’. Alternatively, the coat can be regularly clipped with shears. Clipping as opposed to stripping results in a loss of the wiry texture and some of the fullness of the coat. Dogs with clipped fur no longer ‘blow’ their coat but the coat loses its wiry texture and becomes soft. The fur of clipped dogs tends to be more prone to tangling and knots, particularly when long, and is duller in color than that of stripped coats. In the case of the salt and pepper Schnauzers, the characteristic banded color of the hair is completely lost when maintained through clipping; each shaft of hair becomes entirely grey rather than being banded with multiple shades of grey, white, and black. Regardless of whether the body of the coat is stripped or clipped the 'furnishings' or longer hair on the legs and face must be scissored or clipped regularly and require regular brushing to remain free of potentially painful mats. Whether a Schnauzer is stripped or clipped, his coat requires a great deal of grooming. In most cases this means regular brushing on the part of the owner and regular, often expensive, trips to a grooming salon.
Clipping is most common in the US as it can be difficult to locate a professional willing to hand strip as the process is quite labor intensive. In Europe it is very uncommon to see a wirecoated dog which is clipped. It may not be possible to hand strip a poor quality coat, i.e. one that is soft in texture, but soft coats, while relatively common in pet quality Miniature Schnauzers, is not a widespread problem in Standards.
Inside the US and Canada, ears and tail and dewclaws are typically docked as a puppy. Vets or experienced breeders will cut tails and dewclaws at a few days of age, while ear cropping is usually performed at about 10 weeks. Outside of North America, most Standard Schnauzers retain both their natural ears and tail as docking is now prohibited by law in Europe. Like the Miniature Schnauzer and Giant Schnauzer, these breeds are most noted by their long beard and eyebrows giving them a regal and wise appearance. It is important to note, the Miniature Schnauzer and Giant Schnauzer were bred from the Standard Schnauzer using additions of smaller and larger breeds respectively to change the size and, to some degree, the character of the dog. Thus the Standard Schnauzer is the original and oldest breed of Schnauzer.
The Standard Schnauzer Club of America states that "The Standard Schnauzer is a squarely built, very energetic, medium-sized dog with a stiff, wiry coat. It is a robust and sturdy working dog, yet small enough in stature not to be overwhelming." Standard schnauzers make loyal family dogs with guardian instincts. Most will protect their home from uninvited visitors with a deep and robust bark. The breed is also known to be intelligent and easy to train. They adapt well to any climatic conditions, including cold winters. In general, they are good with kids and adults alike. It is, however, important to socialize from the start. If properly trained, they can be very patient and tolerant. Like other working dogs, standard schnauzers require a fairly strong-willed owner that can be consistent and firm with training and commands.
According to the SSDA, “The Standard Schnauzer is considered a high-energy dog. They need ample exercise not only for physical well-being, but also for emotional well-being. The minimum amount an adult dog should get is the equivalent of a one long walk a day. This walk should be brisk enough to keep the dog at a steady trotting pace in order to keep the dog in prime physical condition. The Standard Schnauzer puppy is constantly exploring, learning and testing his limits. As adults, they are always ready for a walk in the woods, a ride in the car, a training session or any other activity that allows them to be with their owner. This is a breed that knows how to be on the alert, even when relaxing by the feet of their owner. Standard Schnauzers are extremely versatile, excelling at dog sports such as agility, obedience, tracking, Disc dog, Flyball and even herding.
Standard Schnauzers are called "the dog with a human brain". They have excellent working/obedience intelligence. Standard Schnauzers are quick learners but resent mindless repetition. Standard Schnauzers will be rambunctious until about the age of two; and a high degree of exercise will keep them busy. Owners must be prepared to mentally and physically stimulate their Schnauzer every day. A bored Schnauzer is a destructive Schnauzer.
The Standard Schnauzer's appearance is said to match their extreme intelligence and aristocratic bearing; the Schnauzer is considered to look wise and somewhat professor like.
Overall, the Standard Schnauzer is a very healthy breed. The 2008 health survey done by the Standard Schnauzer Club of America revealed that roughly only 1% of dogs surveyed had serious health issues.  The final, full report can be found here but a general summery is as follows:
- Data was collected for 10-15% of eligible dogs;
- Median life span was 12.9 years
- Only a few serious diseases were noted;
- Potentially serious conditions affect less than 1% of dogs
- Apparent progress has been made in reducing the incidence of hip dysplasia
The two major hereditary within the breed are: hip dysplasia and hereditary eye disease. Both problems can be tested for and identified in breeding stock before they pass the trait onto the next generation, so the Standard Schnauzer Club of America recommends that every kennel test their breeding stock for hip and eye problems before breeding and to breed only healthy animals. Glaucoma is also a major issue with Standard Schnauzers. This is a condition in which the fluid causes pressure inside the eyeball. Some dogs may be born with a malfunctioning filter, or other abnormalities, that create elevated pressure fluid in the eye. The elevated force fluid is caused by a blocked filter or drain inside of the dog’s eye which is supposed to control the fluid. The elevated pressure can destroy internal structures of the eye. The dog’s eye may be red, look cloudy or be sore, also will likely blink and/or squint. In addition, the pupils may be dilated. Glaucoma generally results in blindness.
However, it is entirely up to breeders whether they choose to health test their animals and whether they choose use animals for breeding despite knowing they have tested positive for carrying a genetic disease. The SSCA also encourages all potential buyers to ask their breeder for up to date OFA and CERF certifications of the parent dogs before buying a puppy.
The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals found at www.offa.org keeps a record of purebred animals that have passed an x-ray screening for hip dysplasia. Dogs must be a minimum of two years old to be OFA tested and tests are only valid for one year; breeding stock must be x-rayed and re-certified each year. The OFA results reported in the 2008 SSCA Health Survey are as follows:
The cost of OFA testing is relatively high (about 150-200 USD per dog per year) and born directly by breeders. OFA testing is not required for AKC registration of breeding stock or their offspring so the benefits of a good OFA test scores are more indirect and long range for individual breeders while a poor results represent a direct negative impact. Responsible buyers looking to buy from responsible breeders should only choose puppies from a litter where both parents have current OFA test certificates and scores of "excellent", "good", "fair".
The Canine Eye Registration Foundation is a registry for purebred breeding stock who have been certified free of any hereditary eye disease: results for this test can also be found at the OFA website. Dogs must be examined by an approved veterinarian who checks for the presence of heritable eye diseases. Testing is less inexpensive (about 20-40 USD) than OFA examinations but, like OFA testing, must be done annually to remain valid.